In five years Seattle could be as expensive, and as housing stretched, as San Francisco. This according to Bloomberg’s most recent account of our local housing market.
With an influx of well-paid technology workers and a subset of wealthy Asians vying for housing in prime neighborhoods such as Laurelhurst and Magnolia, prices are up and bidding wars are again a reality for people buying homes in Seattle.
This price increase is across the board, happening in condos as well as single-family neighborhoods. Renters are also being impacted according to a recent report in the Daily Journal of Commerce. Even with the unprecedented construction boom in apartments and condos vacancy rates hovered at an exceedingly tight 4.05% in King and Snohomish counties as of the end of June.
Prices are in part being driven by a severe housing shortage. There are simply more people looking for homes than available units on the market.
Mayor Ed Murray’s office is currently in the process of finalizing recommendations to change the zoning regulations to allow for an additional 50,000 units to be built over the next 10 years, including 20,000 reserved for low income residents.
The draft proposal, obtained in advance by the Seattle Times, recommends increasing density in single-family zones, allowing duplexes and mother-in-law units. Currently Seattle’s single-family neighborhoods account for 65% of total land in the city, but that level is “no longer either realistic or acceptable,” according to the draft report.
When the report is released next week people will have a chance to see which neighborhoods are going to accommodate higher density and may offer more affordable options for moderate to low income residents. However, those 50,000 units are not available now and people are increasingly having to look to the suburbs for housing.